Coal Coalition Knew About Fake Letters Before Climate Vote

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Associated Press reports a coal group and two lobbying contractors knew that letters sent to lawmakers were fraudulent before the vote on climate change legislation.

The letters were traced to lobbying firm Bonner & Associates, who were contracted by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. But in a letter to Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey, ACCCE said on June 25 it contacted its primary lobbyist, the Hawthorn Group, demanding "that Bonner promptly make contact with the affected member offices and organization." The Hawthorn group told Markley that it then instructed Bonner to alert the lawmakers involved.

But Bonner waited to call the lawmakers until June 26 -- one day after the House narrowly approved the bill.

In a letter to Markey, Bonner's lawyer said Bonner left messages for two of the lawmakers -- Reps. Tom Perriello, D-Va., and Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Pa. -- on July 1, but didn't reach them until July 13. The other lawmaker to receive the forged letters, Rep. Chris Carney, D-Pa., wasn't contacted at that time "due to a miscommunication," the letter says.

Politico reports that officials at the coal coalition say they never directly communicated with Bonner & Associates. The senior account manager at Hawthorn group -- who is in charge of managed the ACCCE's grassroots efforts -- is married to the senior vice president for federal affairs at ACCCE, Paul Bailey.

The ACCCE hired three firms to handle grassroots lobbying efforts on the climate bill: Hawthorn, Lincoln Strategies and Executive Communications. In total, these groups mailed 58 letters to lawmakers opposing the legislation, and 13 have proven to be forged.

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